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Feeling Beautiful in 2014

Bird of Paradise Plumage © lynette sheppard

Bird of Paradise Plumage © lynette sheppard

Sarah from the Daxon blog across the pond shares this infographic citing 15 ways to find ourselves looking fabulous. The best part? It doesn’t involve fancy creams, sadistic workout regimens or cosmetic surgery.

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Medical Information in Your Smartphone? Yep, There’s An App For That!

ipad iphone App RX

ipad iphone App RX

If you are like me, you don’t lug your computer everywhere you go, but you always have your smartphone readily available. And too, if you are like me, you may have questions about anything from diet regimens to treating symptoms while traveling. Now, there’s an app for that – actually several apps. HealthTap has just released their newest venture for taking charge of our own health and well being:  AppRX.  Here’s what is so great:

“Download Two and Call Me In the Morning”: Doctors Review and Recommend the Best Health Apps with HealthTap’s all new AppRx

Revolutionizing app discovery in health and wellness, HealthTap brings its vibrant network of top doctors to rate and “prescribe” mobile apps.

Palo Alto, CA – May, 2013 – HealthTap, the premier mobile health platform that connects people with a network of more than 40,000 top doctors, today unveiled AppRx, the only place for consumers to discover the best and most useful health apps recommended by top doctors.

With more than 40,000 health and wellness mobile apps on the market, and no easy way to determine whom to trust, people looking for help are left alone to navigate a thicket of apps that are of questionable relevance and quality. HealthTap’s all new AppRx alleviates the pain of health app discovery by making it easy for anyone to select doctor recommended apps in 30 different health and wellness categories.

App Rx Categories on Health Tap

App Rx Categories on Health Tap

“There are more than 600 different diabetes apps, 231 different children’s health apps, and more than 105 period trackers with new ones popping up almost every day! With only user reviews in app stores, it’s very difficult and time consuming to assess the quality and personal fit, let alone discern which apps are best suited for specific health issues,” said Dr. David Wyatt, a Family Practitioner from Atlanta, GA. “Together with tens of thousands of my colleagues, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to objectively and professionally rate the quality, reliability and helpfulness of the best apps on all platforms. We’re committed to putting people’s mind at ease with the knowledge that their selection is ‘just what the doctor recommends.’ ”

“AppRx is the latest step in making HealthTap everyone’s one-stop mobile health hub. Each month, millions turn to HealthTap to get the best answers to their health questions and valuable tips from top doctors,” says Ron Gutman, HealthTap Founder and CEO. “Now everyone can also learn from our doctors which apps can help them stay healthy, or improve their health and well being. Connecting consumers with the right apps will also help realize more of the cost-savings potential of data apps in healthcare, which McKinsey & Company estimates at $300 billion. We’re delighted to help consumers and our healthcare system save money, while  continuing to enhance people’s health and save lives every day.”

About HealthTap
HealthTap is the best way to connect with the most trusted health information and doctors. With top-rated web and mobile apps, HealthTap offers immediate and free access to relevant, reliable and trusted health answers from a network of more than 40,000 U.S.-licensed doctors. Sign up today and download HealthTap’s free apps for iPhone, iPad or Android at www.healthtap.com.

Htap2

Stay tuned for Part III of Creating Your Own Menopause Goddess Group in the next post. I didn’t want to wait on letting you all know about the launch of this cool new tool.

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Being a Post-Menopausal Goddess Doesn’t Save You from Heart Disease or Diabetes

coffee with heart

This week’s guest post is by Katie Brind’Amour, one of my favorite health writers. In it she offers information and helpful hints for preventing and/or dealing with heart disease and Type II diabetes. I know I get sloppy about my diet, especially when traveling, so I appreciate the reminders. Thanks, Katie!

Being a Post-Menopausal Goddess Doesn’t Save You from Heart Disease or Diabetes

Unfortunately, the hard-won pluses of being past Hollywood’s definition of “prime” do not equal a free pass for taking care of your health. Older women have a double whammy ready to work against them: a high risk of developing diabetes and an all-around increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular events, like heart attacks and strokes, are the number one killer in the elderly. Worse still, women with Type 2 diabetes have the same risk of dying of a cardiac event as do women without diabetes who have a history of cardiovascular disease. That means that diabetes makes you just as likely to die of cardiovascular problems as women who already have heart disease.

As if aging weren’t tough enough on its own, Mother Nature has to make it darn clear to older ladies that they are no exception to the general rule of increased risks for diabetics. The recent study on over 9,200 women found that the relationship between heart disease and diabetes mirrored the rest of the population’s: one disease is bad enough on its own, but diabetes is like having (at least) two in one.

What is a Lady to Do?

Although the latest health news is dim, there is a silver lining: both cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes are often preventable. This means that, with time and effort, you can drastically reduce your chances of succumbing to heart disease and diabetes (and all of their nasty, deadly side effects).

There are two key ways to prevent these conditions that everyone knows but no one likes to hear. A healthy diet and regular exercise are absolutely the best ways to avoid these diagnoses. Maintaining a healthy weight (particularly avoiding extra pounds around the waist) can significantly cut your risk of each illness.

 If you are already living with diabetes or heart disease, there are also a few steps you can take to reduce your future risk of a cardiac event, complications, or death. Take these simple, natural solutions to heart, and commit to a healthier lifestyle to truly make a difference in your future.

Natural Ways to Avoid Heart Disease

In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet (aim for half veggies, one quarter lean protein, and one quarter whole grains at each meal), exercise is essential. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking, swimming, water aerobics, tennis, cross-country skiing, ballroom dancing, or biking) at least five days each week. Gardening and walking the dog count, too, and if you love to dance while you wash dishes or vacuum, keep up the good work!

If you are diabetic or if you are currently inactive, talk with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise routine. Build up to a regular and more vigorous regimen gradually, even if you have to start with just a few minutes of walking each day.

Next, tackle the other parts of your life that can best reduce your risk of heart disease.

Drop the tobacco habit. Smoking does serious damage to blood vessels and the heart. Kicking the addiction can add years to your life—even if you aren’t already diabetic. Check out free online “quit smoking” chat rooms or ask about health benefits from your employer or health program to get a little help.

Eat heart-healthy foods. Even if you are already eating a healthy diet, try incorporating additional heart-healthy foods into your weekly menu. These include foods with healthy fats, like fish and nuts. You should cut down on red meats and processed foods, then up your intake of beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Yum.

Get your waist below 35 inches. Extra weight around the middle is a major risk factor for both diabetes and heart disease. Even losing about 5–10% of your body weight can help slash your risk of these diseases if you are currently overweight or obese. Hence the recommendation above for regular exercise (there’s no getting away from that one, ladies!).

Take advantage of health screenings. Getting your annual check-up and screenings as recommended can literally save your life. An early indication of cardiovascular disease—like high blood pressure or blood cholesterol levels—can be the early warning you need to seek more aggressive treatments. Keeping blood glucose levels in the recommended range will also ensure that your body functions as normally and as healthily as possible.

No matter your inherited risk and current trajectory, you can make a difference in your future risk. Diabetes and heart disease are life-changing (and sometimes life-ending). Make sure that you are doing all you can to live a healthier, happier, longer life. You can do it!

 

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Go Coconuts This Holiday Season!

Coconut Dreams © lynette sheppard

Enjoy this guest post from down under authored by fabulous health blogger Justine Vari. I personally love coconut oil and not just because I live in Hawaii. I knew it was healthy but now I know why!

The benefits of using coconut oil for cooking (and you may lose a few kilos on the side)

If you are looking to try something different in the kitchen, give coconut oil a go!  It’s great to cook with because it has excellent flavour, a stable chemical structure and many health benefits.

The coconut tree or palm has been referred to as the Tree of Life in many tropical countries because of its ability to heal many common ailments, from influenza and high cholesterol to diabetes and obesity.  Coconut oil’s anti-viral properties have been known to provide relief for HIV patients and people suffering from herpes, and its anti-bacterial properties ease throat infections and candida. Also, the saturated fats in coconut oil are supportive of kidney function and maintaining thyroid function, which helps to prevent symptoms of hypothyroidism such as tiredness and weight gain.

Coconut oil is the highest source of saturated fats and contains the most medium-chain fats in any vegetarian food source.  Lauric acid makes up 50% of coconut oil and is essential in maintaining the body’s immune system.  The only other source of lauric acid that can compare to coconut oil is breast milk.  Other components of coconut oil include myristic acid, which is used by the body to stabilise proteins used in the immune system, and anti- viral capric acid.

Coconut Oil

Despite the propaganda from the last few decades, including both saturated and unsaturated fat in your diet is essential for health and can promote weight loss.  The ‘bad’ fat that you need to watch out for is trans-fatty acids, which is a refined form of fat that has been altered by hydrogenation.  This process changes the structure of liquid vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature, like shortening for cooking and margarine.  Trans fats are damaging in two ways – they raise the levels of bad LDL, which increase the risk of heart disease, and decrease the levels of protective HDL cholesterol.

Coconut oil is beneficial to health because its fats provide an important energy source for the body and helps to maintain the structure and fluidity of cell membranes.  Short and medium chain fatty acids have a lower caloric value and are easily broken down by the body for absorption.  Because of this accessibility to energy, it raises the metabolism of the body and provides a sense of satiety after eating.

Fats also facilitate the absorption of various vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and help regulate blood sugar levels to fight diabetes.  Coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory properties are great for arthritis and it also contains antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative stress.

Because of coconut oil’s high saturated fat content, it has a stable chemical composition and is resistant to high heats and will only oxidise at 177⁰C, making it great for cooking.  Coconut oil is easy to digest and soothes stomach and digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.  Replace your regular oil with coconut oil when cooking stir fries, meat and baked goods.

Coconut oil is also great as a moisturiser for the skin and hair and has been used medicinally for burns and constipation.

Justine Vari is an enthusiastic researcher and writer of health and fitness, with a keen interest in whole foods and optimum nutrition. She hopes to one day be a part of the movement that eradicates lifestyle-related diseases. For more posts from Justine please visit http://www.health.com.au/blog.

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Contemplating Life After Menopause

tuolumne river afternoon © lynette sheppard

During the worst of the menopause transition, we goddesses crave silence. The slightest noise can be an irritant, causing our shoulders to raise up to ear level and our jaw to clench hard enough to crack fillings. The cat breathing, the husband chewing his cereal, the freaking neighbor blowing the lame-ass leaves off his STUPID DRIVEWAY,.. where was I? Oh yes, noise irritation.

As with the majority of the travails of this passage, hypersensitivity to sound passes. We regain a semblance of auditory equanimity, although we may still be fans of quietude.

Still, there is something important to be gained from these annoyances that can serve us in the search for vibrance in our second adulthood. I’m talking about contemplation.

No, I’m not advocating naval gazing or oming or pillow sitting although these are all valuable practices. And good on you if you already avail yourself of these.

Mostly I’m talking about carving out time and space in a busy lifestyle to slow down, to listen, and to hear our own voices calling out from the silence. So many of the questions of midlife and second adulthood might only be answered with purposeful, contemplative breaks in the action.

Questions like: “What is my passion?” or :”What are my passionettes?” “What does it mean to me to age gracefully?” “How might I give back, what legacy shall I leave, if any?” And perhaps most important, “Who am I becoming?”

I just returned from a “vacation” in the High Sierra where Dewitt and I were able to contemplate literally all day long. Wandering aimlessly, appreciating, and photographing the natural beauty of the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River each day renewed and refreshed us. The rushing white noise of the river and the turtle speed pace allowed my inner voice to surface.

It’s easy to slow down and listen in such an environment. Still, I’d like to make contemplation a part of my everyday life, even more than it is at present.

Reading is a meditation for me. As is photographing. Sometimes, though, the story or artful subject is so compelling that I get lost in it and no longer am hearing my inner voice. How then, might I craft contemplative time, even if only in bits and pieces?

Years ago, I bought a couple of small, powerful books. I just pulled them off the shelf again. Being Home by Gunilla Norris with photos by Greta D. Sibley is a series of meditations having to do with everyday life. Her little vignettes/prayers deal with such weighty subjects as “making the bed” and  “taking out the trash”.

Approaching housework as meditation can create the same open receptivity as sitting by the river. It’s a matter of intention and focus. I have the intention – these little mantras provide the focus. I’m going to avail myself of at least one each day until it becomes ingrained, as natural as the flowing of water. I suspect that it might take a while, but creating a delicious second adulthood is a process not an endgame.

My other little hardbound manifesto is called The Art of Doing Nothing by Veronique Vienne, photographed by Erica Lennard. This little guide to rest an relaxation boasts tiny chapters on the arts of yawning, procrastinating, lounging, napping, and more.
I plan to indulge in at least one of these practices of “being:” in the midst of all my “doing” each day. Perhaps as I bring these gifts more into my life, I will realize that they are not indulgences, but necessities for growing myself.

I’ll keep you all posted on my “progress”. I’d love to know how each of you incorporates contemplation in your life, how you connect with that inner wisdom, and what you have learned. The synergy we create with our sharing leads to exponential growth and positive change. Just ask the Venuses! I don’t know what I’d do without them. Or without all of you! Just sayin’….

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Getting Rid of Excess Baggage: A Menopause Goddess Idea

Aerial salt desert Utah © lynette sheppard

I love traveling. I hate packing.

To me, a plane flight is like a bubble bath at 30,000 feet. No phone calls, no doorbells, no chores staring you in the face. Just peace and quiet in a semi-reclining seat. Time to daydream, read my books on the iPad, or make iPhone photo art out of the aerial landscapes below.

Packing, on the other hand, sucks. I try to take as little as possible but there are certain necessary maintenance items like vitamins, supplements, prescriptions.  Emollients, lotions, and yes, sex butter.

The worst part is the decision making. What to wear? What is really necessary and what will I wish fervently that I had remembered. Oh and remembering! That’s huge. I have to start at least a few days ahead of time in order to have time to remember all the things I’d have forgotten. Gone are the days of packing the night (or hour) before.

So I dither and fret and obsess.  And whine and complain and make multiple trips to the store or pharmacy. And every time I end up asking myself why it’s so hard? Is it just the post menopausal me? This is the herculean task I must accomplish every time to get to that bubble bath and the joyful journey waiting like a fluffy, warm towel at the end of the flight?

I might be the only one who feels this way, but in case I am not, here’s a new business I’m proposing. How about a service where you email ahead your sizes and styles needed in clothing plus any special needs like certain toiletries, travel hair dryer and/or curling iron, even a tripod for your camera.
When you arrive at the airport, voila. A packed to order suitcase which you use and turn in as you leave. And hey, no luggage fees. Which have gotten pretty steep and could help finance your Rent A Travel Wardrobe.

Seriously, while I cannot and will not start another business, I am soooooooooo available to consult on this idea. Gratis. Because I believe this is an enterprise that is long overdue. Hey, maybe we could even get the airlines to chip in with a lower ticket price if we promise to bring no bags.

Or maybe my Menopause Brain is just working overtime on non-essential thoughts and ideas. Then again………….

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Schedule a Play Date – With Yourself

Painted Butterfly © lynette sheppard

Whether it’s a spa day or reading or journaling or watching your fave old movies or making art – regular play dates ought to be part of our second adulthood. We need to recapture childlike joy  and immerse ourselves wholeheartedly in unstructured time.

In our feverish scheduling, it’s time to block out playdates (even whole play days) for menopause Goddesses.

It  can be hard to get started – dieseling is what my hubby calls it. I start to do something just for me, but then jump up and try to accomplish, to cross a few more tasks off the list, to have something to show for my day.

Puttering around the house is enjoyable in its own way, as is getting a jumpstart on chores and the work week. But we can get lost in the laundry, cleaning out a closet, organizing, reports.

A Playdate is time just for me
. And you. I love playdates with girlfriends too, but there should be just YOU time, where there is no need to adapt yourself to anyone else’s wants, needs, desires, or conversation. In fact, quiet is one of the most nourishing parts of my play days.

So, after a wonderful week of photographic seminaring here on Moloka`i, Dewitt took off for a gallery opening featuring his work on Maui. Though work has piled up and I felt behind, for my own sanity and serenity, I scheduled a Play Day.

Here’s how it went:

There was the usual dieseling:  Changed the bedsheets and piled the old ones by the door to go out to wash.

Forgot sheets – . Organized my desk. Cleaned cat box. Sat down to read and saw sheets. Got up again and put them in wash and put wet towels knotted up in washer into dryer.

Answered phone, lost track of what I was doing: oh yeah, reading. Wait, got to jot down idea for blog. Played another move on Facebook Scrabble with a friend.

Started to read menopause research study in Menopause journal – remembered how much I hate medicalese speak. Put magazine down.

Made coffee – uh oh, breakfast dishes still in sink. Washed them. Poured cup of coffee and sat back down to re-read favorite book “Sisters of the Dream” by Mary Sojourner. A novel about the mystery and magic of sisterhood across time and culture.  (out of print, but it’s possible to find a copy through a used bookstore.)

Some stories are food and this is one of them for me and Theresa-Venus, too. 40 minutes of blissful journeying, .then interrupted by chatty cat demanding affection – (cats think play days are all about them.)

More reading with cat on lap. Lunch.

Worked on painting technique on photographs using Photoshop. One success, one maybe, one failure but I learned something so can try it again and get it right.

Long walk, showered off the sweat.  Finished and won Scrabble game online. Poured glass of wine and watched the sunset.

A perfect play day. A perfect day. I’m filled up again. Tomorrow I can work, refreshed and renewed, excited even.

What would you do with a play day? Or a few hours playdate? And isn’t it about time to schedule one? Share your “perfect day” with us – we might get some ideas for our own future play dates.

BTW, the photo painting that worked is the one of the butterfly above this post.

(For more wit and wisdom from our community of Menopause Goddesses, click here to purchase your copy of “The Big M” – your personal survival and thrival guide for the menopause transition.)

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Who Are We Now After Menopause?

Goddess Becoming © lynette sheppard

Last blog post, we focused on getting what we really want. Wanting, even defining may not be enough. As we create the second half of our lives, we may have to let go of some previously cherished identities; stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

The Venuses pondered this quandary in our third meeting, a week long exploration in Hawai`i. The following exercise provided tears, laughter, and enlightenment.  (excerpted from “The Big M”,  Humor, Heart, and Help For the Menopausal Journey.”)

“Cultivating A New Relationship with Ourselves

The mantra of midlife women “I just don’t feel like ME anymore” serves as an call to awakening. Who WAS I?  More important,  who AM I now?  Perhaps our increased need for time alone has a purpose.  We need to become acquainted with the changeling emerging from the upheaval of our bodies, psyches, and beleaguered spirits.  We must question ways in which we have known ourselves prior to now.

We identify ourselves by the roles we’ve played in family and society. We also have ideas of what describes us – quiet, outgoing, sensitive, impulsive, etc.  Identities and descriptions make up much of what we think of as ‘myself’.  These roles and ways of being are familiar and comfortable, if not exactly the dreams we thought we would live.  In getting to know a new SELF, we must first relinquish these familiar identities.  We need to let go of them however much they may resemble a life preserver tossed upon the stormy seas of so much change.

“Letting Go of the Old Me” Exercise
Cut up heavy unlined paper or cardstock into pieces big enough for one or two words to be written.  (approx. 1/2 inch by 3 inches each is a good size.)  Give each woman 30 pieces of paper and a pen.  In silence, each Venus writes down one role or description on each piece of paper,  eg.  homemaker, nurse, artist, spiritual person, wild woman, sister, daughter, mother, and so on.  When finished hold all your roles and identities in your hands.  One by one, put them down, feeling the sensations and emotions of letting go of each one.  Take as long as needed – noticing how it feels to shed each identity.  When all your papers have been relinquished and your hands are empty, just sit quietly and notice what is left.  How does it feel to be without your roles?  Without your descriptions of who you are?  Don’t forget to breathe.

After 5-10 minutes of sitting quietly in this fashion, slowly begin to pick up your roles and descriptions one at a time.  Notice this time how it feels to reclaim each identity.  Are there some that are easier to take back?  Some that are burdensome or seem irrelevant?  Are there surprises?

If you’ve done this exercise in a group, those Venuses who wish to may share their experiences.  This serves to deepen and validate the experience for all.

For some in our Venus group, this exercise was deeply emotional, with great pain experienced on ‘giving up’ some of our most cherished identities.  Others were equally surprised at the ease with which some roles dropped away, like burdens laid to rest.  We found ourselves re-thinking the roles we have adopted until now and contemplating releasing those that no longer serve us or others.

The most important epiphany of the exercise involved feeling what was left when we let go of all our supposed roles and identities.  “Something” essential still remained.  An authentic being with value apart from what she does or how she is perceived exists when we give up all our identities.  Each goddess might be well served to acquaint herself with this essential ‘she’. “

You can try this exercise alone, although it is even more valuable when done in the presence of your Menopause Goddess girlfriends. Shedding roles that don’t serve us any longer opens space for us to become the women we wish to be. As we grow into our new Selves, what we want may change as well. All of this is just focusing our vision, clarifying our dreams, and finding our path as we travel this next part of the post menopausal journey.

(For more exercises in creating our Second Act, as well as surviving and thriving on the Menopause journey, get your own copy of The Big M. And get a copy for a girlfriend at half price when you order yours.)

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Getting What We Really Want In Our Second Act

Emerald Bay Sunrise © lynette sheppard

Remember in our first act of life, before the Pause, when you really wanted something? Perhaps it was a lover, a job, a new car, or moving to another state.

Finally, through perseverance, circumstance, or luck, you got it. And then? The letdown. Because the desired object it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as you thought it would be. What’s that about?

Maybe, just maybe, what we thought we wanted isn’t what we really wanted. We thought this sought after “thing” might fill us up and when it didn’t, we were left confused and bereft. Soon, we replaced it with another desire. Ah, this would be the one. Or ones.

In our second Act, we hope to be clearer about what we want, about how we wish to live, about who we will become. Because not to put to fine a point on it, but time is running out.

In one of our meetings, the Venuses did the following exercise to discover what it is we really want. This exercise is not a “secret” for manifesting – nor will you be writing affirmations or calling on a Higher Power.

No, this involves a deeper inquiry into what we really desire; what we really want to claim a fulfilled life. and it changes moment to moment.

So here’ s the exercise, (excerpted from our book The Big M.) It’s simple, but not to be taken lightly.

“The Want List exercise

Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns vertically down the page.  In the first column, quickly write down at least 10 things that you “want”.  Don’t censor yourself or overthink this process.  Avoid beauty contestant answers like “world peace”, unless that truly popped into your head unbidden.  Don’t worry if any of your ‘wants’ seem silly or bizarre.  No one else needs to see this list.  It can be as mundane as a new toothbrush or as exotic as a cruise around the world.

When you have finished making your list, in the second column next to each ‘thing’ that you want, write the one or two words that describe how you will feel if you get it.  Examples:  successful, clean, adventurous, smart, loved, happy, peaceful, etc.

Now read over the list in the second column.  This is the more important list.  These feelings are what you really want.  The feeling may or may not be  met by the ‘thing’ or item that corresponds to it on your list.  How many times have we wanted something desperately, thinking it would make us feel a certain way, only to find that it didn’t deliver what we’d hoped?  If I get this new haircut, I’ll feel beautiful.  Well, maybe or possibly I’ll just feel different.  If I get this degree, I’ll feel smart.  Maybe yes, maybe for awhile, or maybe I’ll just feel in debt with a piece of paper to put on my wall.

Most important is that we really want the feelings in our lives, and the ‘want’ we attach to the feeling may or may not provide it for us.  There’s a clarity in realizing that we actually want the feeling, as we discover that there may be multiple ways to achieve that feeling.  Sometimes to our great surprise, we discover that we already have this feeling in our lives, and have simply failed to recognize it.

To complete the exercise, we call for the feelings to manifest or reveal themselves in our lives.  And we stay open to the many ways these feelings can show up, rather than remaining attached to the ‘thing’ we wanted.  Hey, it may even be the ‘thing’ that brings the feeling, but at least we’re not blinded to the possibilities that the feeling we want may come from other venues.

If you should happen to do this exercise in your own Venus group, you may wish to share the list of feelings you want to bring into your life.  Voicing them aloud, in the supporting presence of the group, serves to give your desires importance and legitimacy in your own eyes.  The whole group can witness, not only for the feelings you want to attract in your life, but the commitment you have toward manifesting them.

As we’ve said before, there is a synergy and a magic to visioning, planning, and creating the second half of our lives in a community of supportive, like-minded women. Together we are SO much more than the sum of our singular parts.  Connected to each another, we become more amazing and powerful than any single goddess, mythical or real.”

If you don’t have a sisterhood or Menopause Goddess Community, you can do this exercise by yourself
. It will likely be immensely enlightening. And you can do it over and over again as you feel yourself changing.

Still, I can’t overemphasize that any clarity you gain is so much more profound when illuminated in the community of other women. Because they witness, really hear your desire, they can also keep you on track when you forget. As we inevitably do.

Try it for yourself.
Let us know how it goes. (For more exercises in creating our Second Act, as well as surviving and thriving on the Menopause journey, get your own copy of The Big M. And get a copy for a girlfriend at half price when you order yours.)

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Welcome to Meant To Pause

Tuolumne river © lynette sheppard

Why is it called Menopause instead of Menohalt? We don’t pause our hormones and childbearing status. We come to a screeching stop!

So why the temporary sounding name? Perhaps there’s a message here. (No, I’m not talking about Men On Pause, although there is certainly a component of that for awhile during the Big M.)

I wonder if we are Meant to Pause. Okay, okay, I’m probably reading way too much into this, but I just got back from a major pause up in the high Sierra and it seems that this deep appreciation for all things beautiful has been pushed to the forefront by Menopause.

Peace, enjoyment of simple pleasures like nature and music, reveling in the perfection to be had in the here and now.
Theresa Venus talks about this same feeling in her latest blog entry, wondering if resort living might really be a frame of mind rather than a place like Lake Tahoe. I think she might be on to something.

Case in point: Dewitt and I went up to Tuolumne Lodge in Yosemite National Park again this year. It’s a great vacation spot complete with rustic tent cabins. There’s no wifi and precious little cell phone service. No electricity either. A perfect place to unplug.

Add to that, hot showers and great food prepared for you twice a day and there are just no responsibilities whatsoever. It’s like going to camp without the overamped counselors and activities. Because if there’s one thing we Menopause Goddesses long for, it is unstructured, open time. Time to read, make art, daydream, or just do nothing.

Every morning at breakfast, we were seated with several other campers that we didn’t know. Inevitably the first topic of conversation was “What hike are you doing?”

“Er, none.” we’d answer. “We are just going to walk a little ways down the river and hang out. Maybe read a little and take some photos.”

This was a most appropriate question, since this lodge is the jumping off point for some of the most beautiful (and strenuous) hikes in the Sierra. Our answer earned us some pretty weird looks, and sometimes put a stop to all further conversation.

Still, we stuck to our nonplan. (One of Dewitt’s favorite phrases about vacationing and travel is that “The unaimed arrow never misses.” We live by that.

Off to the river we meandered with lawn chairs, books, cameras, water, and trail mix. Long days were spent rereading favorite books. (In Spite of Everything Yes by Ralph Steiner for Dewitt, Anne Lamott’s delightful book on writing Bird by Bird for me.) We swam and took photos, watched shadows and birds, and just filled ourselves up on natural beauty.

At dinner, we’d reprise our day when asked what hike(s) we did. Some confused looks as well as some curious glances were directed our way. Luckily, food arrived quickly enough to save us having to explain too much.

Our last morning, we were sitting at the table with two goddesses of a certain Meant To Pause age. They asked us about our hiking plans; we sheepishly reiterated our lazy ass, open-ended, goal less ‘plans’. “Wonderful,” they crowed. “Us too. Don’t you just love it?”

We do. We love it. And them. They came along just in time, reaffirming our commitment to Pause and reflect, Pause and relax, Pause and enjoy. Yep, from now on, I’m a Meant To Pause Goddess and proud of it.

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